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Four Rivers Charter Public School teacher in Greenfield, Amanda Locke, teaches her students how to help their community

By Cori Urban

December 20, 2009, 2:00PM
Last year's seventh grade at the Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield made a cookbook and donated all the proceeds to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Teacher Amanda R. Locke, left, coordinated the project with the help of fellow teacher Lisa P.Ritchie, right front. Some of the students, now eight graders, who took part in the project are Isabell K. Margola, second from left Kathryn E. Soltysik, front, and, from left in rear, Frederic N. Rigollaud, Grace E. Walker, Taylor P. Chapin and Jake M. Waldsmith.
Amanda R. Locke is kind of a living example of exponents.
She knows she alone can help better her community, but in teaching her students that they, too, can make a difference, there can be exponential contributions.
It’s a change the seventh-grade science and math teacher at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield helps students make, both out in the world and in their own hearts.
Last year, she and Lisa P. Ritchie, a seventh-grade English and social studies teacher, guided their students in the creation of a cookbook, “35 Ways To Feed Them All,” to sell as a benefit for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Written and produced by students, the cookbooks sold for $8 each.
The lessons the students learned were academic: What is the nutritional value of each recipe? How does unit pricing work? How is food digested? They were also inspirational: How can people make a positive difference in their community?
In addition to raising funds for the food bank through the sale of the cookbooks, the students had a silent auction of some completed batches their recipes. Those projects garnered $700.
A food drive brought in 100 items of non-perishable food, too.
Locke is proud of her students. “Once they realize they can do something in the world, I hope they keep doing it,” she said. “The accomplishment is all theirs.”
Megan S. Pete, director of development and marketing for the Hatfield-based food bank that serves Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties, said Locke has an amazing energy for teaching and an unwavering dedication to her students.
“She strives to make those lessons have lifelong effects on her students,” Pete said of Locke. “She has used her influence to teach her students the importance of volunteering, instilling in them a sense of goodwill.”
Locke’s teaching focuses on helping her students incorporate their lessons into real world situations “to make the world better,” Ritchie said. “That’s how she teaches.”
Before the project, many of the students did not realize people in their community need help to feed their families. “I’ll probably think more about how good we have it,” said one of the students involved in the project, Isabel K. Margola, 14, of Greenfield, now an eighth grader. “There are a lot of hungry people out there, and we can help them if we really try.”
And if they do, they’ve taken to heart Locke’s math lesson of exponentials.

How to help

Agency: Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
Volunteer opportunities: Special events; Brown Bag programs for elders; office; salvage room
For info: Call, (413) 247-9738; e-mail,; online at .

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Ten memorable local stories that provided food for thought for many readers in Western Massachusetts.
Four Rivers Charter Public School teacher in Greenfield, Amanda Locke, teaches her students how to help their community
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Last year, she and another teacher guided their students in the creation of a cookbook, ...